Blog Watch

What education insiders are saying.

The site: The Super’s Blog

An Indiana superintendent on the cry for national testing: If the goal is to make everyone in America learn the same things, then let’s just make it easy. Adopt a national curriculum. Take RFPs for a set of national “materials,” whether textbooks or software driven. Then require everyone to use them. Then we can be just like the competitors we envy so much, China, India and Japan. Meanwhile, they are trying to figure out how to become like us. I know the thought of this is horrifying. I speak in jest. But I get so sick of the wasted efforts in “textbook adoption” and curriculum revision efforts that are never ending and are repeated with redundancy in every system with the same publishing companies pushing the same generic products. Meanwhile, the curriculum just narrows and narrows and narrows as testing mania shows no signs of letting up. If we have a national testing agenda that narrows the curriculum to a single national assessment—how far are we [from] the thought of national instructional “materials?”

Nah. We’d rather play the pretend game and pretend we have local control.

The site: The Education Wonks

Test-based student accountability: [Indiana has] a scheme to tie teacher compensation to standardized test scores. Since it is proposed that Indiana teachers should be paid according to student performance on standardized test scores, I wonder how the Indiana legislature would feel about tying students’ report card grades to those same tests? At present, standardized test scores aren’t used in factoring report card grades in any locale that I’m aware of ... many students don’t put forth their best efforts when they take these examinations. In all too many cases, some students simply don’t care because they know that these tests don’t affect their grades one way or the other. And yet Indiana teacher compensation would be based upon student effort on test day ...

The site: A Shrewdness of Apes

Job One for administrators: If you know of a teacher who is not performing, don’t ignore it. Offer remediation, document attempts to resolve the issues, and, if none of that works, for the good of the children get rid of that dead wood, no matter how annoying all the paperwork is! Most of the other staff members will thank you, and even if they don’t, ensuring that all children work with effective teachers should be your primary job. Let me repeat that: Ensuring that all children work with effective teachers should be your primary job. Not budgets, or meetings, or repaving the parking lot. All of those things are important, but making sure children learn in your building or district is Job One.

The site:

On Detroit’s Teacher Strike: The city of Detroit has been touting a push toward a renaissance; significant efforts have gone into renewing and rebuilding a city burdened by years of decline, neglect and mismanagement. Still, the construction and restoration has not yet stemmed the flow of people from the city. For the city to turn around its fortunes, it will need to attract a strong, vibrant population ... to attract families, it will need strong schools to which parents want to send their children. Parents are not wooed by a district that fails to start school on time due to a strike; with such a district, the city is left with one fewer attraction to entice new residents, and the renaissance becomes that much more difficult....